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tv   Report from the Aleutians  CSPAN  March 25, 2017 1:25pm-2:11pm EDT

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department film from the 1200 between the u.s. and russia. about thentary tells early stage of the aleutian islands campaign in world war ii. andepicts the harsh weather living conditions faced by u.s. forces. ♪ the islands are situated at the north pacific ocean. it extends about 1200 miles towards library -- liberia.
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aleutians comprise of four islands. part of theute territories of alaska, usa. origin, many of them are still active. they rise immediately from the water, steep, bold mountains. aleutians are the storm of the western world trade a low-pressure area prevails there. cold air masses from the polar regions have a shearing effect against the warm moisture air masses over the japanese current to form iconic disturbances.
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earth'se of the rotations in these disturbances, move west to east. one phenomenon constitutes of the most dangerous weapons in the arsenal of our enemies. it enables the japanese to operate behind the moving curtain of a storm. of june, 1942,ys they employed this in vintage -- advantage in order to get absolute domination of the ocean. they dispatched to invasion plates -- fleets. designed toeration break the american line of defense. both attempts failed. american air force is engaged midway, achieving a historic victory. down out harbor swarm
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of nowhere to knock out 1, 2 transports. in pursuit of the enemy, our army of navy airman flew through storm, and fog, 4/5 unlucky. by uncharted fees, not knowing whether the enemy fleet lay below. nashing it out after sweating it out hour after hour. there is no monument. patrolled innd many instances until their fuel was gone, knowing they would be forced down to see. they were unwilling to break off contact and had made with enemy forces.
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few of those that flew against the japanese, if you wish to see their monument, you americans here at home, look around you. and the remnants of the defeated japanese task force, they landed on these islands. we immediately took the offense. in late august of 1942, a large detachment of our troops landed on an island several hundred miles out along the chain. hours.wo the name of this island is eight act. chain, of the aleutian vegetation which uses water at every step. the only bird life on the island was a scavenger raven. wind.lack,
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it sold value is that of a staff officer's map, but that is measurement. strategically, adak is one of the most important locations in the world. occupation,r the and her field was completed and the first u.s. bombers sat down. three days later, flights took ff on a bombing mess -- mission with fire production -- protection. the airfield is the heart of the island, beating half a million horsepower. trips,mphibian, pursue transports. the sound of the engines warming up starts before dawn.
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every day, weather permitting, the bombers take off on at least one mission. often on good days the first flight takes off with sunrise. others follow at regular intervals. it's a under bombardment every night until -- every day until nightfall. equal in importance to the airfield, and without which it cannot exist is adak's excellent harbor. landlocked on three sides for the national island breakwater, it enables harry draft vessels to come in to shore. if the airfield is the heart,
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the harbor is its hungry mouth. it's the mansour ever on the increase. by day and night, takers, transports deposit munitions, supplies, men on the beach. all, theguard over defense installation, coastal batteries, antiaircraft emplacements, machine-gun posts. there is nothing vulnerable about adak any longer. ♪ geyser best the skies are constantly circled by aerial relay. boats standby in readiness for supplies landing attempt.
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vigil,e destroyers keep slipping my ghost to the fog, challenging any approaching vessel on the horizon, listening with undersea ears for the beat of an engine, scanning the seas with periscope, standing duty on the bearing patrols or slipping into port on the flight of a convoy. -- flank of a convoy. submarines --ty with an enemy some rain is a daily occurrence. contact with an enemy submarine may continue on and off for hours. during which maneuvers with position to attack. then to kill engines and my silent on the bottom as they tear down depth charges.
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with depth charges. 80 reconnaissance holds the enemy while in check. the flow of men, munitions and supplies flows ceaselessly on. path of every american accident sherry force with materials needed in carrying the fight to the enemy falls to the army service forces. sf is the bloodstream of the military body, maintaining its every organ and muscle. adak present a special problem. the island fairness is nothing towards human needs, save drinking water. everything else must be brought here. fuel for men and motors, machinery, munitions, materials. they raise these requirements to the nth power.
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everything from caterpillar tractors to can openers. plus the operations of purchasing, assembly, transporting, delivery, and becomes apparent why the job of supplying the military force is now dignified by a $12 word like logistics. . since the original landing the manpower on adak has been constantly augmented. now there are thousands. after a voyage them and take anywhere from a week to a month depending on the sea. it took more than a single month to land them here. the months of training to toughen them to the rigors of linden whether -- wind and them intoo make soldiers. ♪
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narrator: on adak, eastern accents makes with texas drawls and twangs. bookkeepers, grocery clerks, exmers -- exbookkeepers, -farmers. ♪
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narrator: orders for the day, special orders appear on the bulletin board. since newspapers and magazines are out of date, these are the only means by which the soldier knows what's going on outside. no fresh meat, no green vegetables, powdered eggs, potatoes, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, canned fruit and coffee make up the basic diet. and this gets. barrel full of biscuits. appetites are huge. ♪ narrator: officers and men attend the same mess. an officer does not display the signet of his rank. the discipline does not suffer. customary military for melody is relaxed, simple necessity taking its place. ♪
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narrator: after months at an outpost like adak, there is a tendency to think and live only in terms of the present. that faraway world which he can begin sisi like a dream to him. a letter in his hand is proof of the reality of that world, of saturday night dances, jalopies, shaving in the same mirror with the old man. a letter means more than his paycheck to the soldier. if he happens to be in the air corps he would gladly make a next her flight for one more letter. -- an extra flight for one more letter. pictures, no stage door canteen's or uso, no girls, pretty or otherwise. nothing to drink, not even a coke. candy bars, cigarettes and chewing gum are rationed.
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the extruder effect is morale actually gets stronger than closer troops come to the enemy. on adak proper, morale is first rate. ♪ [harmonica] narrator: the site of the airfield was originally a shallow tidal lagoon. army engineers drained off its waters by means of a channel to the sea. it's exploiting a natural formation that a less the completion of the field and 10 days at 11 nights. the work never ceases.
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--dovers -- although there's bulldozers shifted tons. the same techniques that were used to build the panama canal. ♪ receded, as the waters draining crews followed, leveling and impacting the area in preparation for the final service. this purpose was not to be the usual concrete runway of an one who but a steel section seven prefabricated in american mills. it was put down by the infantry, of course. in 36 hours. -- ♪ narrator: 1.5 million square feet of it.
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♪ narrator: from then on only the severest weather kept our lanes grounded. local storms materialized, deluge the island and pass on or dissipate all within a few short minutes. it is the land of rainbows. if you don't like the weather, wait a minute the soldier says. everything the weatherman has offered that he had in a single day. downpours, hurricane winds, hail, snow, fog, sleet and the sunshine. it is not so much bad weather as changing weather that makes flying hazardous for the uninitiated. a new pilotless learn the signs to get through local squalls, put her down in a field rims by mountains, near the water. ♪
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narrator: the greater percentage of casualties occur in antiaircraft fire over kiska. often the bombers are sorely crippled with wounded or dead aboard. ♪ >> i go to prepare a place for him. i will come again and will see
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sole.der my [taps] ♪ narrator: the mission is the highlight of 24 hours. ears strained for the coaching sound. at the first sound an alert is flashed to the ground. units cleared for action, antiaircraft, machine guns are stripped. ammunition is broken out and every thing is pretty readiness for the enemy.
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six bombers went out and six are coming back. [engines] narrator: the first one lands. another coming to earth each time around. those damaged over the minded take priority. -- or with wounded take priority. it's a revelation how much punishment each can take and still navigate. unless both sets of controls are shot away on a closer shell finds a gas tank, the odds are all in her making it safely home.
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anyone who has been over will tell you the most wonderful ride in the world is the ride back from kiska. even if two engines have conked out, there is something about the scenery on the way home. ♪ narrator: crews proceed to the field operation tent with only questioned with results and observations. there takes all reports are compared and cross checked until a complete and accurate operation -- record of the operation has been assembled. there is nothing to do until
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tomorrow but each, drink and be merry. ♪ >> ♪ i'm as happy as a king , believe me until the go rolling home rolling home rolling home happy is the day as we go rolling home ♪ beginsr: adak's tomorrow today with the director from kodiak island, the intelligence center. its task is to follow the bombers, recording the immediate result of the bombing. also enemy defense activities, installation, camouflage. these are studied by specialist interpreters and submitted to the general and his staff
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officers. colonel william prince. ♪ , theyor: here at kiska can't area steel huts, hangers, underground railways, gun installations. kiska, one of the hottest spots on earth. objectives are the destruction of enemy shipping in route to kiska. the destruction of installations on the island, harassing of enemy personnel. in the broader aspect of the operation have been decided upon, the senior officers of the units work out details. among considerations in planning commission other type of aircraft to be employed, the weight and type of bombs, the time, altitude and direction of the attack. all of these are interrelated. the overall determining factor is the weather. for this reason the navy
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meteorologist plot his charts up to the very time of takeoff. a change of weather at the last moment may mean a complete revision of tomorrow's plans. tomorrow is sunday. ♪ narrator: at their outposts, catholic, protestant and jewish are leading fighting men and their devotions. under the snows of the mountains, these defenders of the faith exercise the first of their freedoms. ♪ as far as the business of war, sunday on adak is like
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any other day. there is a mission going out. bombs will be brought onto the field and camouflage dumps. heavy bomber carries 16 250 pounders, 48 1000 pounders. the size of the bomb employed depends upon the nature of the target. if the target is small, there is a better chance of hitting it with 250 pounders. on the other hand, congested areas like the campsite at kiska , a blockbuster comes into its own. fuses are put on before the assembled bombs foisted into the bombay's. when the time comes, bombs can be released individually's or in silo mode. ammunition is brought to machine guns and ready for firing.
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the rounds for the belts in succession of three's. tracers, incendiaries, and black regulations. each part of the gut is intended with care, and every belt of imitation is clean, oiled and checked before takeoff. it is 12:40, and that i was received final instructions. they are going over the target. the first is 1100 feet to drop 500 pounders on antiaircraft installations. then proceed along the coastline, strapping to the western limits of the camp area. the second flight is 7500 feet to drop 1000 pound bombs on the camp area. the third flight at 4500 feet to destroy hangers with 500 pound bombs. second and third flights will follow at 45 seconds. fighters to proceed each bomber
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flight at 600 feet and provide protection from enemy aircraft. ♪ narrator: crews begin to assemble, awaiting the appearance of their officers. crew is a team, and the longer together the better the teamwork. theirs is a mutual responsibility. crewthe safety of the ship in e lives of the others may depend on any single member.
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trust, respect are implicit in such a relationship if it is to endure. maybe in the beginning you don't like the color of a guys hair, but he is there and you will get like it fine. the men eat, sleep and fly together. their voices on the intercom become familiar, easy-to-understand and understanding is vital. every gunner knows the quality of every other's partnership encourage. the navigator can plot a 1000 mile course to make a landfall. eight men can testify. trust and respect for the bombardier, the radio operator, the engineer, copilot and trust and respect for the ship they fly. a monument to be put up for the prewar fraternity of high school speed maniacs. out of their ranks are fighter pilots are largely drawn. they bring to their hazardous understanding split-second judgment, inspiration, gary.
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-- daring. 12 scouting missions over kiska. lieutenant mills, 14 missions. bean, 13 missions. lieutenant ashley, 15 missions. fsky, 11nt strinko missions. zeroel chennault, he has a and a submarine to his credit. a last-minute weather observation is made. the word is given to go. it is good luck and over the hill. the aerial camera is aboard.
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the bomber pilot informs his crew of the exact partnership is to play in the mission. the bomber pilots are differently than the fighters. where the fighter is reckless, the bomber pilot is responsible, determined. because of the size of his ship there are no last moment decisions for him. emphasize the big intricate costly piece of machinery the heavy bomber is, he has the lives of six or eight others to think about. men, nine bombers, 12 fighters are setting out to attack an immobilized 10,000 men behind naval and military defenses. this is the significance of aerial supremacy. but behind the supremacy by the enormous system which makes it possible for the ships to take off. asf, naval convoys, army air
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transports, the corps of engineers, army and navy intelligence, signal corps, ordinance, and ground forces. the set of their parts for the day. the stage is set. rehearsals are over. the actors are ready. the curtain is going up. but this is no make-believe drama. they will be playing for keeps. ♪ [engine starting]
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♪ [engine starting] ♪ narrator: colonel william erickson brought the first bomber down on adak and that the first mission over kiska. [engine starting]
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narrator: the thunder of engines makes the earth terminal and the ravens rise, the echelon proceeds towards kiska. it's about an hour and three quarters from adak to kiska. kiska is also one of the most strongly fortified. in like sove dug many moles. an estimated force of 10,000 goes underground at the sound of
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our approaching engines. we cannot by eric tackled to annihilate -- by air attack hope to annihilate. we must keep the enemy from adding to its resources while he builder on fighting strength to the day of the hour when we shall undertake a landing operation. radio contact is maintained between the bombers and adak throughout the flight, which proceeds at military speed. 165 miles per hour. during the first part of the
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journey the guns are swung into position. caret mechanisms -- turret mechanisms are tested and trial rounds are fired. [gunshots] narrator: time moves slowly. crew members 7 hundred place that poker. the route is quite familiar by now. many pilots and crews have made the flight 25, 30 times. along about the time the island decided, they look out for enemy airplanes. them in his regular job it is say no matter how many times of fellow has gone over, a man feels funny over kiska. the signal from the leader, pilots will open throttle and the airplanes will go to the bombing run. for 1.5 minutes to two minutes they will proceed a level flight
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in an absolutely straight-line towards the target. thereby enabling the bombardier to make his computations. wind velocity, speed, temperature, altitude, drift. there can be no deviation whatever in the flights if the bombs are to find the target. >> 10 miles and three not to be objective. narrator: before kiska volcano mission to place, each flight goes to its designated altitude in preparation for the run. the enemy will endeavor to throw the flights off their runs. at this he will bring all his fire parent of thei -- firepower to bear. our ships will he then rock. machine gun bullets may make a filigree of their wings. high explosives may open up holes bigger for amanda crawl through. -- for a man to crawl through. little kiska, out of defensive
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kiska harbor. >> bombay doors open. >> bombay doors open. six degrees lateral. narrator: the object is to hit the target, not avoid antiaircraft. the best way is to forget was happening outside and make the run by instruments. that way if it comes, just look over your shoulder and say good morning, father abraham. >> i went every man to sit by his guns until i say he can leave. use every round of ammunition on this ship. fire until they stop. if we have to bailout, they will be plenty of nady around pick us up. -- navy around to pick us up. narrator: kiska.
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[gunfire] [explosions] >> enemy aircraft at 3:00. [gun fire] second life, low altitude. flight, low altitude.
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[gunfire] [explosion] [gunfire] [explosion] >> on target. let him have it. [bombs dropping] [explosion] >> make them like it.
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[gunfire] [explosions] >> third flight at 4500 feet. [bombs dropping] [explosions] >> bombs away. [] bombs dropping] [gunfire]
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>> bombs away. [explosions] >> check-in. >> ok. we're sluggish but i'm ok. kiska's hangars are
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destroyed, earning. our bombers found the target. nine bombers came out and nine are going home. ♪
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>> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> american history tv, this story and to explore reagan administration policy in latin america. they discussed the iran contra affair, economics and human rights issues. the clements center for national security at the university of texas at austin hosted the panel, which is part of a three-day conference titled ronald reagan and the transformation of global politics in the 1980's. it is about an hour and 45

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